Saturday, November 13, 2010


Forgotten and forgettable
There's something fun about combining the librarian fun of sites like Goodreads and LibraryThing with the nostalgia of Good Books for Kids. Searching for all sorts of kid classics brought to mind memories of a simpler reading era and made me wonder at the books I used to read. And then, a strange realization - I could not remember half of the stories of the books I read, but I could remember pretty much if I liked them or not.

Frindle? Kid renames the pen a "frindle", right? A power struggle with the teacher? I think, not sure. Liked the book a lot. Love That Dog? Written in weird prose, I think, and absolutely terrible. Hated it. Donna Jo Napoli's books - each reasonably good, none that really jump out. Louis Sachar? Can pretty much do no wrong. Just Ella - some loophole at the end, no? Whatever - great story, a lot of fun.

Anybody sensing a pattern as to what is remembered here?

It begs the question, though: how well must we remember books? And what counts as remembering a book? As I read Madeleine L'Engle's An Acceptable Time (another sequel in the Time Quartet/Quintet/Trilogy, if Many Waters is excluded...), I once again felt that I must have read the book at some point (I do believe a friend lent it to me...), but I could not remember anything. Not one scene, not one moment. I remembered vaguely that there was a character who was kind of evil and that's about it. Turns out the book is still fairly forgettable, even nine years down the line.

An Acceptable Time is the exception. I couldn't remember anything about the book, but with so many other kids books, I can vaguely recall scenes and certainly how I felt about it. Place this alongside my strengthening memory of books I've read in recent years. Is the difference the time? I don't think so. Books I've read more recently I've also summarized and reviewed in my own personal journals (or online). I'm not surprised that I've forgotten these books, but rather that the emotions tied to them are so strong. The mind is a fascinating thing.

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